1) The term “radical” as most of today’s young radicals apply it to themselves is adequately defined by any standard dictionary— going to the roots of social problems, demanding a change in the very nature of existing society. However, in the last generation, the word has been a subject of confusion on two counts—first, its application to the phenomenon of the so-called “beats,” and second, on account of that tendency which the editors of DISSENT once called “authoritarians of the ‘left.’ ” The “beats,” while projecting a “radical” image to the publicat-large, and providing a tone of revolt that was a major source of their appeal to young people, were not radical in any social sense. In fact, they represented a retreat from politics. The fact that the first widely noted movement of the “Silent Generation” was anti-political is indicative of the ’50s in America. And I believe that the decline of beatnikism says something important about what has changed since then.
How do I, and how does the present generation of young radicals view earlier radical generations? It can’t be denied that there is a considerable amount o...
For just $19.95 a year, get access to new issues and decades' worth of archives on our site.
Print + Online
For $35 a year, get new issues delivered to your door and access to our full online archives.